Basic Zombie Costume and Make Up

Updated: Sep 12, 2019



This week, our Media Melt make up department (Eve) had a request to do a glam zombie look for a dress up party. It was for Michelle and Steve. There are a lot of ways that a zombie look can go wrong, so it is important to start with a few key questions about the zombie’s character so you have a good foundation to build the costume.


HOW DID THE ZOMBIE DIE



How the zombie died will impact the costume and make up. Are they one of those risen from the dead zombies? If so they will need to be dirty and tattered, probably more decayed, if they were buried and in a coffin then they will be wearing their Sunday best. Were they turned into a zombie after being bitten by another zombie? If so they will need a gruesome bite mark. What were they doing before they were bit? Going for a run? At work? In bed? This will determine what they were wearing. Have they eaten anyone yet? If so they will need blood on their face and probably on their clothes. This is an important step to really “selling” your zombie costume.


BACKSTORY



Once you know how your zombie died you can work on fleshing out (get it) the rest of your character. What kind of person were they before they died? What happened after they died?? For Michelle and Steve we came up with the backstory that Michelle was working at the library when a patron come up and bit her on the hand. (Michelle costume = work clothes, Michelle make up = bite mark on hand). She came home and bit Steve on the neck (Michelle make up = blood around mouth, Steve costume = work or home clothes, Steve make up = bite mark on neck). As Michelle was already a zombie, Steve had no one to bite and so bit the dog (Steve make up = blood around mouth and tufts of dog fur). These little details make the character more believable, plus it’s fun if you can explain your backstory at a party.


COSTUME



The costume party called for a “Glam Zombie” dress up, which is kind of a tricky one to execute. In order for the zombie to be glam, it probably would have needed to be killed while out at the opera or out for dinner, but that would also require some costume breakdown as they have since been living in their fancy clothes as a zombie. Michelle said pretty early on that she would be wearing her black dress and there was to be no ripping or fake blood, so we left it as it was. I guess as zombies they decided to dress up for the party and that’s why their clothes were clean and intact. In a perfect world however, you would be taking a cheese grater to everything and dyeing at all a brownish black tint as well as covering everything you can in fake blood. But oh well.


MAKE UP USED



The make up I used on both Michelle and Steve was fairly standard, you could replicate it without any special effects make up at all, providing you have a rainbow of eye shadow colours. As Michelle and Steve both go outside every once and a while, I just used my own shade of shockingly pale foundation as the base. It was probably 3 shades too light for them. You can use any light foundation, I used Mac Studio Fix in NC10 because it’s probably my least favourite in my collection so I good choice to waste, and its high coverage. I then did pretty much everything else with the Kryolan Cream Colour Circle in Burn Injury and a little from Bruise. The cream colour has better pigment and pay off but you can certainly use shadows if that’s what you have, you’ll need a purple blue, plenty of reds, grey, maybe a yellow and green, and they need to be matte, shimmer or glitter is not what you want for this look!! You can also get some contacts if you really want to commit but it was a hard pass from Michelle and Steve.


FACE MAKE UP APPLICATION



I applied the foundation all over their faces and necks, you don’t need to blend or take too much time with this as the cakier and patchier they look, the better. Try to use a dewy foundation if you can as this will help them look clammy. Then apply a mix of the purple blue and red to their eye sockets, follow their natural under eye discolouration but exaggerate it make sure to get it in all the hallows, including under the brow. Use a grey to contour their faces, just the same as regular contour, you want their face to look hollow and thin so get under the cheekbones, on their forehead and under their jaw. I also put red around the corners of their mouths and blocked out their lips with foundation.


The bite can be done a few different ways. You can get a prosthetic online that just gets glued on, you can build a proper bite with wax or liquid latex or you can be a bit lazy like me and just kind of draw it on. I started with the darkest inside part, which is where the teeth embedded in the skin. That is followed by a very pale kind of outline around the teeth marks and they you can have some fun with the bruising. This will depend on how long ago your zombie was bit or if its infected or fresh etc but generally a bit of purple, green and yellow look pretty good.


PROPS



There wasn’t a lot of props but as part of the backstory included Steve biting Meg, Book photoshopped a picture of Meg as a zombie to put on Steve’s phone so that he could show people.


DONE



And here’s the final look, be sure to take photos with flash as it is the least flattering light you can get. Get those red eyes going and have fun at your party!


Media Melt is a Video Production Company based in Dunedin, New Zealand. If you have any enquires, feel free to contact us here

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